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At-Home Parents and the U.S. Congress - Part Two, A Mother's Day Follow-up

It's a sunny spring day. I'm sitting on a blanket in the front yard with my nine-month-old baby. He squints at me and smiles. I think about . . . politics?

Thursday, April 23, President Clinton cited reports from the Labor and Treasury departments as proof that his child care initiative should be passed in Congress. The 21.7 billion-dollar legislation will expand the number of children eligible for child care subsidies, increase the current child care tax credit, and allow for tax credits to businesses that assist employees with child care.

My baby crawls toward me and giggles as he crinkles the pages in my notebook.

Saturday, May 9, President Clinton in his Mother's Day weekend radio address again pushes Congress to act on the initiative. An AP news report says that "The legislation is languishing in Congress, where some Republicans want to aid stay-at-home moms. . . ."

"Languishing?" I put the cap on my pen and give it to the baby to chew on. He squints again from the sun and smiles as drool runs down the side of the pen and his arm. I look at a cloud and see a fluffy troll snoozing on his back.

Part One in this series reported the passage of a resolution by congress that included among other things the statement that ". . . any quality child care proposal should reflect careful consideration of providing financial relief for those families where there is an at-home parent."

The postal carrier hands me the mail. "That sure is a happy baby!" she says. I look at the baby and tickle his ribs. "He sure is!" I say.

Sen. John Chafee, Republican from Rhode Island is quoted in a CNN report: "You can't beat the care that a parent is going to give; that is the finest care possible, but that individual is forgoing wages or a salary from a job." Chafee is pushing child care legislation that would include a tax credit to families with an at-home parent caring for a child three or younger.

"We could use the money." I think. I pick up the baby and head for the crib. Nap time. The baby grabs his special blankee and smiles contentedly looking around at his familiar surroundings.

CNN quotes the president" "I'm willing to negotiate with anyone who wants to help people raise their children better so that people can succeed at home and at work."

FEMALE, an organization that supports formerly employed at-home moms, is urging its group's members to contact the President and Congress to express their concern regarding this legislation. Kim Hoffman, FEMALE's National Advocacy Manager, writes on their web page that the goal of the letter writing campaign is "to ensure that a political division does not place the interests of parents working outside the home in direct competition with those taking a break from paid employment . . ." An important point that the organization wants letter writers to stress is the concern that political divisiveness will create a rift between at-home and working parents and that child care legislation without provisions for tax relief for at-home parents will be discriminatory.

Sonya Ross reports for AP that some Democrats feel Chafee's tax credit is of no use to those who pay no taxes because it is non-refundable. Sen. Moseley-Braun is quoted in the report, "The contradiction here is support for stay-at-home moms if they're middle income." Ross reports that Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd is pushing a 25 billion-dollar child care legislation package that would that would include a refundable credit for at-home moms with a child under one.

Politics? I go upstairs to check on the baby. He is sleeping soundly and I wonder about the inner life of an infant. He has one hand in the air still reaching for his busy box. He fell asleep in mid-movement. I go downstairs, step outside on the porch, and enjoy a moment in the sun. At-home dads get so few.

© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.